Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Big Chill in North Korea

North Korea has been hit by the longest cold spell in six decades, raising concerns about this year's grain production, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper Chosun Sinbo reports.

Temperatures stayed below zero degrees Celsius for 40 consecutive days from December 24, a phenomenon only surpassed by a 62-day streak in 1945,

It quoted North Korean meteorologist Ryu Ki-Yol as saying the chill had frozen soil up to 42 centimetres below the surface, 10cm deeper than last year, causing farmers to worry about crop production this year.

Aid groups have warned that the North's chronic food shortages would worsen this year as international donations dwindle, in part due to irritation over the regime's missile and nuclear programs.

South Korea used to ship 400,000 tons of rice a year to its northern neighbor. The shipments ended in 2008 as relations worsened.

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